I’ll be lecturing to the Southbury [CT] Garden Club later this week on Easy Care roses (yes there are such things!) so I thought I might as well make this Rose Week on Gardendaze as well.
To my mind, the first of the so-called easy care roses began with a series of trademarked roses called Flower Carpet. They’re still sold in many places and they are sold in pink pots if that brings back any memories for any of you.
These were originally sold to be groundcover roses but there are two problems with this–for one thing, roses don’t make great ground covers–their foliage is just not dense enough, and this series of roses in particular case not “easy care” enough–or perhaps it wasn’t disease resistant enough. It was still susceptible to the usual black spot and rust and fungal diseases which traditional roses get. Therefore, it can and will get defoliated, meaning it’s really not going to be a good groundcover rose!
In fact, up until 2000, with the introduction of Knockout™ the world didn’t really have what we’d call a true “easy care” rose. There were some “old” roses that were fairly easy to care for depending on your climate, and some of the floribundas and grandifloras, if sited properly, were also fairly insect and pest resistant, but no one had ever seen anything like Knockout. It just doesn’t get blackspot. And those nasty little rose sawfly larva–they don’t bother with them either. It’s a delightful rose. I’ll profile it and its progeny on Thursday.
Since then, other growers have tried to compete with Knockout’s success by introducing either trademarked series of roses or programs of roses that need no supplemental irrigation and no pesticides. I’ll talk about those as well.
Sadly, most of these newer “bullet-proof” roses have no scent. For scent, I still like to rely on my tried and true David Austin™ roses. They too have proven to be relatively “bullet-proof.” Yes, they do tend to get blackspot now and again but the fault at least it partly mine because I have crowded them into too small a space, therefore not allowing adequate ventilation space between them.
They also do tend to get that nasty little rose pest, the larva of the sawfly, but I just spray it off with the hose if it gets too severe. I am willing to tolerate imperfect leaves.
And they do have that beautiful old-fashioned cottage rose look that I adore. You can’t get that from any of the newer roses. So for that, I will put up with a few inconveniences.